Attracting International Clients: Five Ways to Market Your Real Estate Business Effectively
There are myriad investment opportunities in the United States that draw heavy international interest. From commercial properties to acreage and single-family homes, people from all over the globe are seeking to learn more about such offerings. How can you, as an agent, best capitalize on this attention?
Learning how to do so is critical to growing your firm, as research from the National Association of Realtors reveals that global clients have a 50% close rate. Domestic ones, on the other hand, have a 33% rate. This surplus isn’t just translated into sales, however. It can also affect your bottom line. The same research reveals that real estate professionals who work with an international client base earn 50% more than their domestic-only peers.
Today, we’re discussing how forward-thinking experts in this space can make the transition into this exciting and lucrative realm. In the end, making connections is key, as is learning as much as possible and delving into research. Let’s learn more.
1. Make connections as you travel.
Are you traveling to England for a quick business trip or family vacation? If so, make as many connections there with local vendors that you can. While you might be tempted to reach out strictly to those in the real estate industry, it’s wise to expand your radius. Instead, focus on those in the luxury vendor market. Seek, for instance, a high-profile car dealer or well-known jewelry designer in the area.
Make the introduction, explain what you do, and leave a way to contact you. This can often result in more leads and referrals than you expect. Of course, before meeting with someone, it’s helpful to perform your due diligence first. Look up the vendor online, read reviews and feedback and gauge their involvement in the local community. Once you find a resource that appears legitimate, you’ll know it’s worth an investment of your time to pursue it.
2. Don’t press a sale right away.
International clients, especially those in the luxury realm, might not be interested in signing paperwork right away. Delving straight into the process and explaining the jargon can feel like too much, too soon. It can also make your pitch seem inauthentic. Instead, remember to invest in getting to know the person on the other end of the telephone or the e-mail. Ask about their interests and hobbies, their professional background and their plans for the future.
Not only does this help you better connect with the client, but it can also shed some light on what kind of property they’re looking for. If they have school-age children, for instance, you’ll need to look for a family-friendly home in a prime location near a school. Or, if they’re singles looking to explore the city, a downtown loft might be more appropriate.
3. Get your team in order.
International clients will often look to their agent to handle the majority of the buying or selling process. This means you’ll need to pull together an in-house team of experts to help them along the journey. From a notary to an accountant and financial advisor, consider everyone who will be involved from start to finish, as well as any other stakeholders who need to be in in the loop.
Being able to provide your clients with this type of white-glove service puts you a head above the rest. It removes a majority of the stress from the situation and establishes your team as a voice of authority. If you have the bandwidth, consider putting together a short guide explaining how the process works in your country. This doesn’t need to be comprehensive or overly involved, but a short and concise packet of information, along with key phone numbers, service providers and other resources is often welcomed.
4. Tap into any foreign language skills.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you speak the foreign language, you can both impress your clients and communicate more clearly with them. Don’t just rely on this language in written form, either. You can also film videos of yourself speaking in that language, explaining many of the same steps that are outlined in the printed guide you’ll create.
Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t speak a different language. While it’s helpful to brush up on any rudimentary conversational skills you’ve acquired over the years when visiting a foreign country, you can still acquire an impressive international client base in English. In fact, recent research reveals that 72% of people who use the internet do so in English, even when they’re browsing homes around the world and connecting with agents.
As such, if your website is in English, along with your social media accounts and other pages, you still stand a chance to reach buyers in another country. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from studying the foreign language of the country you’re seeking to connect with. For instance, before you head to Paris, you should find out more about how to interact with the population there to up your odds of making the right connections.
It also helps to become as knowledgeable as possible around the global home market so you can explain statistics and share data with your clients. Resources including the Global House Price Index can be helpful in this regard.
5. Avoid industry jargon.
While a majority of internet users are browsing in English, it’s still unwise to fill your corner of the internet with Americanized industry jargon and complex wording. Rather, keep the information as accessible and user-friendly as possible by erring on the side of brevity. This not only appeals to international clients, but domestic ones as well. No one wants to sift through tomes of text-based information to get to the points they need. Leverage the power of graphics where you can and make sure your photography is crystal clear to pique their interest.
Remember, all audiences today are primarily mobile-based. To this end, ensure your agent website is responsive and looks just as good on a small, handheld smart screen as it does on an oversized desktop monitor.
Finding and Reaching the Right International Connections
Becoming an international real estate agent can be a rewarding and lucrative career path. Yet, to be a successful one, you must first do as much research as possible into the course you want to chart. Find the luxury vendors in your target areas and make your presence known. Speak confidently to everyone you meet and remember to put the person above the sale. Then, apply as much of your foreign language skills as possible, keeping in mind that the biggest obstacle standing between you and a sale halfway around the world is a narrow focus.
Expand your search and broaden your horizons, keeping an open mind to all opportunities that come your way. The right people are seeking your talents and abilities, right now, so go find them.